Human parvovirus B19 spreads through respiratory secretion and blood, and although symptoms vary, children typically develop a distinctive facial rash, according to Mayo Clinic. Adults don't get the rash but instead may have joint pain that can last several days or weeks. Many people have no symptoms.
Children are most likely to get human parvovirus, Mayo Clinic explains. It is common for children to spread the disease at school similarly to a cold, via respiratory secretions and hand-to-hand contact. It can also spread by blood, primarily through childbirth, from a mother to a baby.
Early symptoms of parvovirus in children include fever, runny nose, headache and upset stomach, Mayo Clinic states. The disease is contagious during its early stages. Toward the end of the disease, children break out in a bright red rash on both cheeks, which sometimes spreads to other parts of the body and has a lacy, red appearance.
Adults who contract parvovirus may have joint pain in their ankles, wrists, knees and hands, Mayo Clinic says. It's important to see a doctor if the sick adult is pregnant, has a compromised immune system or has sickle cell anemia.
Although dogs and cats also become ill with a parvovirus, it's not the same strain as the human version, Mayo Clinic clarifies. Pets can't give the disease to humans, and humans can't pass the infection to their pets.